I want to share with you one of the most transformative things that helped me to break free from my old life. In my past I was caught up in a cycle that would bring me round and round, over the same ground, tripping on the same things, and getting lost and confused in the same tricky spots. I was making the same mistakes over and over again. I could never realize my mistakes until I was in the midst of the same old circumstances that needed correction.
It was both troubling and disheartening to find myself in the same spot over and over again. I considered myself smart– maybe not the sharpest tool in the shed– but smart. I was well mannered and well rounded. I had an open mind and was easy to get along with. I just couldn’t figure out why I kept on finding myself making the same mistakes over and over again.
That is until I finally stopped judging people.
Unfortunately it took me falling farther than I ever thought possible to come to understand that people do the best they can with what they’ve got. We all make mistakes. We all fall down. We all do things we regret… and most of us think we are doing what needs to be done while we are doing it. The addict is overrun with an insatiable urge to get high and the mind rationalizes why it is ok to go ahead and steal. The scared teenage driver who flees the scene is overcome with fear of reprimand from strict parents. Even those who commit violence and even murder are inundated with justifications from an emotionally charged mind that tells them to do so. The regret always comes after. Rarely does one think it is the wrong course of action while they are doing it. Most people do what they think they should do. In this way we can generally say that most people do the best they can with what they’ve got.
When I allowed myself to judge others I was discounting every experience that had brought them to that place where they chose in a way I did not agree with. I was essentially passing judgement with little to no quantitative data on how they reached that particular answer. I realized one day, that for me to judge the actions of another was akin to my declaring Einsteins theory of relativity complete bunk. Who am I to pretend to know??
This judgemental attitude relied on my complete disregard for any and all causal factors. Cause was not important. What was important was the parameters that all actions must fall within. I did not seek to understand anything. I would arrogantly point and say WRONG. This naive and arrogant perspective disqualified me from even the most subtle degree of understanding.
To make matters worse, this state of mind that judged so harshly the actions of others made me look at myself in the same way. I held myself to an unattainable standard set by the world at large. In time this judgemental attitude condemned me to self hate instead of self love. This increasing demonization of the self eroded my worth, eradicated my dignity, and caused me great pain and suffering. I am not saying that people do no wrong; I am saying that the degree of wrong a person does often correlates with just how lost and confused they are. Human beings are just that- human beings. We are not monsters. We can and should hold each other accountable for our actions but we should not pass judgements and dehumanize each other for the mistakes that are, after all, only human.
Once I learned to stop judging others and to instead seek understanding I broke free from the cyclical nature of this self destructive habit. I stopped demonizing others as well as myself, and as I came to understand the thoughts and actions of others according to their unique personal situation, I began to empathize deeply with the plight of every man and woman. Today I look with compassion and love on the lives of my extended world family, and instead of passing judgement I want only to lend a helping hand. Today I love myself unconditionally, and I dare say I love everyone as well. If we all sought to understand a little more and to judge a little less I think the world would become a brighter place.
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